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COVID-19 pandemic wipes out 81 million jobs in Asia-Pacific in 2020, ILO says

With fewer paid hours of work available, median incomes are falling. Overall, labor incomes in the region fell by as much as 9.9% in the first three quarters of the year, equivalent to a 3.4% drop in gross domestic product, the ILO said.

By: Bloomberg | Updated: December 16, 2020 1:51:01 pm
Pedestrians walk across a road in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Photographer: Soichiro Koriyama/Bloomberg)

The economic blow from coronavirus has wiped out 81 million jobs across Asia-Pacific this year, with women and young people disproportionately affected, according to the International Labour Organization.

Covid-19 has inflicted a hammer-blow on the region’s labor markets,” Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, the group’s regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement Tuesday. “Low levels of social security coverage and limited institutional capacity in many countries have made it difficult to help enterprises and workers back on their feet.”

Employment in Asia-Pacific showed a 4.2% decline compared with the pre-crisis trend, with the gap at 4.6% for women and 4% for men, the ILO said in a report. Young people have been especially affected by working-hour and job losses, the ILO said, with the youth share of employment losses three to 18 times higher than their share of total employment.

With fewer paid hours of work available, median incomes are falling. Overall, labor incomes in the region fell by as much as 9.9% in the first three quarters of the year, equivalent to a 3.4% drop in gross domestic product, the ILO said.

The regional jobs disparity is largely driven by South Asia, where the 2020 employment estimate is nearly 50 million jobs below the pre-crisis baseline, according to the report. East Asia is estimated to see a gap of 16 million jobs, followed by Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, with gaps estimated at 14 million and a half-million jobs, respectively.

“Too many workers have been pushed backward into poverty,” the report said. “The region’s economies, workers and enterprises are struggling to bounce back from the crisis and to make progress toward inclusive growth.”

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